The theme? "Keeping Bees Healthy." An excellent topic.
The symposum is designed for beekeepers of all experience levels, including gardeners, farmers and anyone interested in the world of pollination and bees, said Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center, housed in the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science. (See news article. To register, access this page.)
Keynote speaker is Marla Spivak, Distinguished McKnight Professor, University of Minnesota and a 2010 MacArthur Fellow. Spivak will speak on "Helping Bees Stand on Their Own Six Feet."
Another speaker is Amy Roth, assistant professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology, Department of Entomology, Iowa State University, Ames. She will be doing double-speaking duty when she makes the 1761-mile trip to UC Davis. Roth will deliver separate talks on honey bees and social wasps. At the May 9th symposium, she'll speak at 11 a.m. on "Combined Effects of Viruses and Nutritional Stress on Honey Bee Health."
A few days later, on Wednesday, May 13, her topic will turn to social paper wasps. She'll present a seminar, hosted by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, on "Molecular Evolution in Insect Societies: Insights from Genomics of Primitively Social Paper Wasps" from 12:10 to 1 p.m. in 122 Briggs Hall, off Kleiber Hall Drive.
A little more about social wasps...
"The evolution of highly cooperative, eusocial behavior from solitary ancestry represents one of the major transitions in the evolution of life," she says. "Thus, understanding the evolution of insect eusociality can provide important insights into the evolution of complexity. Recently, with the advent of the genomic era, there has been great interest in understanding the molecular underpinnings of social behavior and its evolution. Several hypotheses about how eusociality have been proposed; these ideas can be roughly divided into two camps—one proposes that eusociality involved new (novel, or rapidly evolving) genes, and the other, that old (deeply conserved) genes took on new functions via shifts in gene regulation."
Toth will provide an overview of recent research in her laboratory "aiming to address the genomic basis of social evolution in insects, with a focus on gene expression. Utilizing a comparative approach involving multiple species and lineages of bees and wasps, as well as denovo sequencing of genomes,transcriptomes, andepigenomes, our work aims to trace the types of genomic changes related to the evolutionary transition from solitary toeusocial behavior."
Toth will present results from several lines of research mainly focused on primitively social Polistes paper wasps, that have led to the following insights:
- Relatively minor shifts in gene expression patterns may accompany earlier stages of social evolution
- Convergent evolution of social behavior in different lineages involves similar gene expression patterns in a small set of key pathways,
- Epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation are variable across species and evolutionarily labile.
"Although more data on additional solitary and social species, and on novel genes, are needed, the emerging picture is that earlier transitions from solitary to simple eusociality involved relatively small changes in gene expression and regulation," Toth points out.
All in all, it's going to be a busy week for Amy Toth. Honey bees first, on Saturday, May 9. The vegetarians. Then their cranky cousins, the social wasps, on Wednesday, May 13. The carnivores.
Yes, honey bees have six feet, and that's the title of a keynote speech to be presented May 9 at the University of California, Davis by Distinguished McKnight Professor and 2010 MacArthur Fellow Marla Spivak of the University of Minnesota.
To take place in the UC Davis Conference Center, the daylong symposium on "Keeping Bees Healthy" will be hosted by the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center and the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Registration is now underway for the 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. event.
“This educational program is designed for beekeepers of all experience levels, including gardeners, farmers and anyone interested in the world of pollination and bees,” said Amina Harris, executive director of the Honey and Pollination Center. “In addition to our speakers, there will be an active ‘Buzz Way' featuring graduate student research posters, the latest in beekeeping equipment, books, honey, plants and much more.”
Among the speakers will be honey bee scientists Brian Johnson and Elina Lastro Niño and native bee scientist Neal Williams, all with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology; and bee molecular scientist Amy Toth of the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology, Iowa State University, Ames Iowa. Also planned is a tour of the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Center on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus. Bee garden manager Christine Casey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology will lead the tour.
General admission is $75 and student admission is $25. Both include a continental breakfast, lunch and post-event reception. For registration, access this page. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation is providing financial support.
As for Marla Spivak, back in 2010 she was named a recipient of the $500,000 John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship, often referred to as a "genius award."
Nearly two million people have accessed her TED talk at which she comments on the "big bee bummer that we have created," why we should care about bees, and how we, as individuals can help them. Honey bees, she says, have thrived for 50 million years, but in the last seven years, the bee population is declining rapidly. On the average, beekeepers report losing 30 percent of their winter bees. They don't make it to spring.
"We can't afford to lose bees, so what is going on?" Spivak asks. In 1945, the U.S. honey bee population stood at 4.5 million colonies in 1945. Today it's about 2 million.
In her TED talk, Spivak expresses deep concern about bee health and calls attention to what she calls "the multiple, interacting causes of death: diseases, parasites, pesticides, monocultures and flowerless landscapes." She sprinkles in such colorful words as "flower feeders," "agricultural food deserts," "bee social healthcare system" and "tomato ticklers" (referring to the buzz pollination of bumble bees on tomatoes).
One of the most prominent and distant--as in far away--visitors to the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, the half-acre bee friendly garden on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis, was Mark Leech of Launceston, Tasmania, Australia.
Leech visited the garden several years ago to research his book, Bee Friendly: A Planting Guide for European Honeybees and Australia Native Pollinators for the Australian Rural Industries R&D Corp (RIRDC).
"The book," he told us, "is to encourage planting for bee forage across the landscape from urban to the rural environment and all climate zones."
Leech recently provided us with a copy of the finished work, which is absolutely magnificent. It's informative, educational and colorful and is bound to make a difference.
On Page 1, he writes: "The world has become aware of the plight of the honeybee. The reported collapse of honeybee population in North America and Europe, and the fear of a food crisis, have led people around the world to become concerned. Shrinking resources, increased urbanization, ever expanding corporate agriculture with its push for monoculture, greater use of insecticides and herbicides, changes to grazing practices, a global warning trend and climatic chare are all placing pressure on honeybee and native pollinator population. It is in this context that this book was produced, to guide planting decisions in favour of plants theat benefit honeybees and native pollinatiors."
He devotes one page to the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, which was planted in the fall of 2009 and is operated by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. "In response to colony collapse and threats to the US apiary industry, Häagen-Dazs, a well-known ice cream brand, launched the Häagen-Dazs Loves HoneyBees' campaign in February 2008, committing significant funding to both the University of California, Davis and Pennsylvania State University for honeybee research. Its contribution to UC Davis resulted in a bee garden as a demonstration, education and research tool."
"The purpose of the Honeybee Haven garden is to provide a year-round food source for honeybees," Leech continued. "One of the design criteria in the competition that was held was that the Honeybee Haven should inspire the development of honeybee garens in a variety of settings, including backyards, public gardens, agricultural easements, urban rooftoops and other urban species."
For the front and back covers of the book, Leech chose an mage of a bee foraging on a pink zinnia (a photo taken by yours truly in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven).
His species pages contain 193 species, native and exotic, "that were chosen to represent a selection of useful bee forage. Many of the plants are known as top producers of both pollen and nectar, a few are nectar only, and some are pollen only."
Among those contributing to the book from the United States: Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology; Kim Flottum, editor of Bee Culture; bee scientist Marla Spivak of the University of Minnesota; and Kathy Kellison, executive director of Partners for Sustainable Pollination.
It's a book well worth reading. You can download a free PDF of the book from the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation website at http://www.rirdc.gov.au/. Go to publications and look under honeybees. You can also order a bound copy through Mark Leech at email@example.com.
That's why Marla Spivak's TED talk should be required viewing.
Spivak, a distinguished McKnight University professor of apiculture at the University of Minnesota, talks about the "big bee bummer that we have created," why we should care about bees, and how we, as individuals can help them.
Honey bees, she says, have thrived for 50 million years, but in the last seven years, the bee population is declining rapidly. On the average, beekeepers report losing 30 percent of their winter bees. They don't make it to spring.
"We can't afford to lose bees, so what is going on?" Spivak asks.
She covers the decline of the honey bee population since World War II. The United States tallied 4.5 million colonies in 1945, but today it's half: only 2 million colonies.
Spivak expresses deep concern about bee health and calls attention to what she calls "the multiple, interacting causes of death: diseases, parasites, pesticides, monocultures and flowerless landscapes."
You'll remember her colorful words, such as "flower feeders," "agricultural food deserts," "bee social healthcare system" and "tomato ticklers" (referring to the buzz pollination of bumble bees on tomatoes).
Take it away, Dr. Marla Spivak! (Link to TED talk)
The Veterans' Memorial Hall in Sebastopol is the place to "bee" on Saturday, March 19.
That's when and where the fifth annual Bee Symposium will take place.
And and one of the speakers is none other than MacArthur Fellow Marla Spivak, professor of apiculture at the University of Minnesota.
Remember Marla Spivak? Last year she was singled out as one of the recipients of the $500,000 MacArthur or "genius" awards.
The Bee Symposium, open to the public ($30 for tickets in advance or $35 at the door), is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The site is at 282 S. High St., Sebastopol.
Marla Spivak will give two talks--one on "Socialized Medicine in Honey Bee Colonies" in the morning, and the other on "Bee Health and Breeding" in the afternoon.
UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty and staff have participated in the Bee Symposium for the past several years. They include Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen; native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology; and bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey.
Spivak has close ties to UC Davis. She studied with Thorp and other volunteer instructors at the 2010 The Bee Course, Portal, Ariz. This is an annual workshop intended for conservation biologists, pollination ecologists and other biologists who want to gain greater knowledge of the systematics and biology of bees. Spivak has also done research with Mussen and Cobey.
In her morning talk, Spivak will discuss propolis, which bees collect from tree resins and use as "glue." However, propolis is more than just a glue, Spivak says. It helps the immune system of individual bees. And, she says, "we are also exploring the antimicrobial properties of propolis, using modern and analytical methods, to test the activity of different sources of propolis against bee viruses and bee bacterial pathogens."
In her afternoon talk, "Bee Health and Breeding," Spivak will cover hygienic behavior or how well bees detect diseases and parasitized brood in their colonies and remove the unhealthy brood. "We are now working one-on-one with commercial bee breeders in northern California to help them enhance their tried-and-true stocks by selecting for hygienic behavior," she says. "The goal is to maintain genetic diversity while improving mite disease and mite resistance in our bees."
Two other speakers are billed, and each also will present two talks. Acupuncturist Frederique Keller of Northport, N.Y., president of the American Apitherapy Society, will speak on “Medicinal Use of Raw Honey, Pollen, Propolis, Royal Jelly, Bee Bread and Beeswax” and “Bee Venom Therapy: Historical Perspective into Modern Applications.”
Retired physician Ron Fessenden of Colorado Springs, Co., author of “The Honey Revolution: Restoring the Health of Future Generations” and other books on honey, will speak on “The Revolutionary Effects of Honey on Human Metabolism” and “How to Sleep Your Way to Better Health with Honey.”
For tickets, see the Beekind website or contact Katia Vincent of Beekind at firstname.lastname@example.org. Proceeds will benefit three organizations: the Xerces Society of Invertebrate Conservation, the Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees and Partners for Sustainable Pollination.
So, if you want to learn more about bees and their products, this is definitely the place to "bee."